Using three cheeses for a grilled cheese gives you the flavorful but melty sandwich you’re dreaming of without sacrificing quality. To make grilled cheese even better, after the sandwich is toasted on each side, cut it down the middle and sear the inside. You’re welcome.
Tips, Tricks and Substitutions
Do you really need a recipe for a grilled cheese? Isn’t it self explanatory? I wanted to really break down what makes a great grilled cheese. The quality of the ingredients will really send this comfort food over the edge. I use three good quality cheeses, good quality butter (Kerrygold, unsalted) and bakery style bread. If you’re making something quick and you only have American and regular store bread in the house, it will still taste good. I just want it to taste amazing. The key is having enough butter (fat) to get a great toast on the bread and not stick to the pan, having the pan at the right temperature and using good quality ingredients.
Do I need to use these three cheeses specifically? I use whatever cheeses are in my fridge that I need to use up. This is merely a guide to help you choose what cheeses will work well. I always make sure I have a good melting cheese (think fontina, monterey jack, havarti, swiss, or another young cheese). I then add two more intensely flavored cheeses (think aged cheddar, smoked cheeses, aged gouda, asiago, provolone and hard cheeses like parmigiano reggiano or pecorino romano). Feel free to experiment and note which works best. Fontina, sharp cheddar and parmigiano reggiano are three staples in my fridge and I love the way they work together. If you’re not sure where to start, try my suggestions. All three of those cheese are great in a variety of applications, so they won’t go to waste or be hard to use up. The biggest thing that is important when choosing cheese is going for quality. Because the cheese is the star of the dish, you don’t want to skimp there.
What type of things can you add to a grilled cheese? This recipe is meant to be a flexible guide to explain my technique. I change up the ingredients often to include whatever is in the house or something I need to use up. A favorite combination is deli honey ham (nice and thin) and garlic paste (smeared on the inside of one piece of the bread). I’ve added paprika into my cheese mixture or added a thin layer of chipotle mayo instead of garlic paste. If you want it spicy, mix in a little cayenne pepper or some sriracha. The possibilities are endless.
Why don’t you use American cheese? Because it isn’t real cheese. It’s a cheese product. Yes, it has a nostalgic flavor and melts well, but it just doesn’t do it for me. I’m a cheese snob, I know.
Can you use something beside butter? Yes, you can use whatever fat you want, I’ve just found that butter gives a good color, flavor and texture.
What’s the best type of bread to use? I like a farm style bakery bread. Something sturdy and not very porous (like focaccia). It comes down to preference, so use whatever you prefer to be toasted, even multigrain and whole wheat breads work well. A sourdough, rye or pumpernickel are all great options too. I typically use a bread I find in the bakery of a store or make it myself rather than the prepackaged commercial bread. A better quality bread will make a huge difference here, just like with the cheese.
What’s the secret to a melty gooey grilled cheese? I like to make sure I use a fair amount of a good melting cheese (listed above), and I use a brick to weigh down the sandwich while it is cooking. After it is golden brown on both sides, I cut it diagonally and sear the cut sides in the cast iron pan for about 30 seconds. This makes the inside of the grilled cheese (where you bite) extra melty but also with an added crunch. You’re welcome.
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Three Cheese Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
- ⅓ cup fontina cheese freshly shredded
- ⅓ cup sharp cheddar freshly shredded
- ⅓ cup parmigiano reggiano freshly shredded
- 4 slices farm style bread
- 2-3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Preheat a cast iron skillet over medium heat.
- Shred your cheeses and mix together in a bowl. Rough estimates are fine.
- Once your skillet is preheated, turn it down to medium low heat.
- On a cutting board (or plate or whatever surface you’re using) add ½ cup of the cheese mixture onto a piece of bread. Top the cheese with another piece of bread.
- Cut your butter into six equal pieces and add one piece to the skillet. The butter should foam, bubble, sizzle and melt completely. (This means the pan is the correct temperature.) Add the sandwich into the pool of melted butter.
- On top of the sandwich, add a foil wrapped brick to weigh down the sandwich. Allow to cook undisturbed for 2-3 minutes. This depends on how dark you like your grilled cheese toasted. Check it after 2 minutes and go from there.
- Remove the brick and sandwich from the skillet and add a second piece of butter into the pan.
- After the butter has melted, add the sandwich, untoasted side down and top again with the brick. Cook for another 2 minutes.
- Once the grilled cheese is your desired color, remove the brick and sandwich. Place the sandwich on a cutting board and cut diagonally.
- Add in a third piece of butter into the pan and place the two halves of the sandwich, cut side down, into the pan to sear. Leave it there for 15-30 seconds until a light crust forms and the inside is melty.
- Repeat with the rest of the bread and cheese.
- Use whatever cheeses you have in the house but make sure one of them is a good melter like fontina.
- I use rough estimates on how much cheese goes into each sandwich. ½ cup per sandwich is a good starting point.
- Use a hearty bread from the bakery section or a local bakery.
- If your butter doesn’t melt like this, it isn’t hot enough. Wait for it to get hotter.
- If your butter is smoking, the pan is way too hot, reduce the temperature.